Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

September 5, 2013

SCOUT REPORT: One last chance to stop Obamacare

CROSSVILLE — On Sept. 10, Congress will begin working on an appropriations bill to fund the government in 2014. Their work must be completed by the last day of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) in order to avoid shutting down the federal government. This will be our last chance to stop Obamacare.

On Oct. 1, open enrollment for the Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies begins. These are Obamacare's main entitlement programs. Starting Jan.1, the individual mandate requiring taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a government fine takes effect. Individuals and families who don’t comply will be penalized by tax penalties administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ... the same IRS that has recently come under fire for targeting certain groups of Americans based on their political ideology.

The president has issued waivers to politically connected unions and corporations, exempting his friends and supporters, as well as those with lobbyists powerful enough to bend his ear and fatten his coffers. But where are the lobbyists for the American people? Oh, well, the president has exempted them too. Just a few weeks ago, Congress and their staff became the latest of Obama's cronies to receive a waiver. So when the music stops on Jan. 1, the only ones without a chair will be middle class Americans.

Progressives have been waging a relentless war on individual liberty for more than 100 years in pursuit of a utopia provided by centralized government authority. History has shown time and again how these pursuits end. Once implemented, Obamacare will be the largest expansion of government in generations. There isn't enough space on this page to detail the negative consequences that will stem from this program, but it would suffice to say it will be the death knell of the republic.

However, we still have a window of opportunity to stop the insanity, albeit a very limited one. There is a grassroots effort demanding that the 2014 budget withhold funding for Obamacare. The continuing resolution (CR) legislation would fund the entire federal government but specifically prohibit any spending, mandatory or discretionary, on Obamacare.

Some of the most staunch opponents of this plan are the Establishment Republicans who simply want to delay Obamacare's implementation. Coincidentally, so does President Obama. Republicans all around the nation are going home to their districts and puffing their chests, bragging on how they're getting implementation of Obamacare delayed. There is a reason the president and the Democrats are agreeable in that regard. Once again, Republicans are playing checkers while the Democrats play chess. Delaying Obamacare allows the entitlement infrastructure to become entrenched without the majority of Americans feeling any pain until after the 2014 midterm elections.

Last week, I asked Rep. Diane Black "Do you support refusing to sign a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare?"

She replied as follows:

"I really do not believe that we should do that particular measure to defund Obamacare," said Black, "and here's why: It would shut down the government, and here's what happens when you shut down the government, the president gets all the control. Congress loses control. We don't have control over who gets paid or who doesn't get paid. Now, do you really believe that if we close down the government that the president would say, 'oh, because you did that to defund Obamacare I'm not gonna fund my signature legislation'? No. Here's what the problem is, is that, they were very, very crafty when they put that bill together. The funding, for Obamacare, 90 percent of that is mandatory. In order to change a mandatory program you must change the law. We can't do it by the budget, it must be done by the law.... You cannot change the law through a CR, a CR is a funding issue."

Now, pretty much everything in that statement is patently false. First of all, the president does not have control of "who gets paid or who doesn't." The Constitution states in Article I Section 7: "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives;" and in Section 9: "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law;" These clauses constitute what is known as the "power of the purse," which is the power to tax and spend public money. The power of the purse is the most important Constitutional check and balance that Congress has over an overreaching executive. The founders gave clear authority over expenditures of money to Congress, not the president. If Congress doesn't want Obamacare, then they don't need, or have to fund it. Period. And if they aren't willing to stand up for Americans now, then when?

Secondly, Congress routinely changes spending on mandatory programs as part of its annual appropriations process. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recognizes these changes when analyzing spending bills and scores them as CHiMPS – (changes in mandatory program spending). These CHiMPS are attached by the chimps in Congress on every single spending bill. CHiMPS breech the “firewall” that separates discretionary and mandatory spending programs and their different budget rules. Claiming that defunding Obamacare is not possible is disingenuous, at best.

Congress has defunded appropriations for mandatory spending every year since 1976. The Hyde Amendment states that no money in Medicaid can be spent for abortion. It is not a permanent law, but rather a "rider" (additional provision) that gets attached to spending bills. Defunding Obamacare simply means attaching a legislative rider to a “must pass” bill that "1) prohibits any funds from being spent on any activities to implement or enforce Obamacare; 2) rescinds any unspent balances that have already been appropriated for implementation; and 3) turns off the exchange subsidy and new Medicaid spending that are on auto-pilot."

As for shutting down the government, The term shutdown substantially overstates the matter. A government shutdown is neither catastrophic nor unusual, especially when a divided government wrestles over issues of spending, taxation, deficits and debt. Six shutdowns occurred between 1977 and 1980, and 11 more shutdowns occurred through 1996. The most vital and essential services continue to run. These services include military, law enforcement, veterans care and others. Social Security checks are still mailed and self-funded agencies like the Postal Service would continue operating. Despite the usual rhetoric, grandma won't get kicked to the curb.

Funding the federal government, with the exception of Obamacare, would force the Democrats to explain to the American people why they would shut down the government to fund an unfair, unaffordable and highly unpopular law that is so unworkable that the administration has itself admitted it cannot manage to implement major portions on time.

Obamacare is an absolute disaster, and it hasn't even begun. Max Baucus (D), the lead Senate author of the ACA, has called it a "huge train wreck." Three union leaders, including James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, wrote a letter to Democratic leaders stating "the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class." If Obamacare were actually going well, the president would want it to kick in before the election in 2014, not after.

Republicans can win the national argument, but Establishment Republicans have a different plan of action – it's called "Wait and see." Let Obamacare be fully implemented, and then wait and see how bad it gets for the American people. Wait and see if that pain provides enough political momentum for Republicans to, at some unknown point in the future, win enough seats in the Senate and keep enough seats in the House to maybe repeal it. Repealing Obamacare post-implementation still would require congressional approval and Obama’s signature. If that's the fight they are willing to take up later, why not sooner? Rather than prevent it, the Republican establishment would rather see it fail miserably so that maybe they can pick up a few seats. This is the policy of a coward, and no doubt a strategy that comes from the same class of political consultants who continue to lose elections.

Obamacare is extremely flawed. Simply delaying its implementation will help Obama in the long run by allowing the bureaucracy to become entrenched.

Congress has all the tools to stop Obamacare without having to gamble on gaining a majority in the Senate while keeping a majority in the House and taking the presidency. In fact, the longer Obamacare is delayed, the less the chance of Republicans have of being elected at all. The House should immediately pass a continuing resolution funding every bit of the federal government except Obamacare. It should explicitly prohibit any federal funding, discretionary or mandatory for Obamacare. This legislation would define public debate for three weeks and put the onus on Democrats to compromise. If President Obama threatens to shut down the government, Republicans must then win the argument, but it is an argument that can be won. The fight will most certainly be difficult, but since when do Americans capitulate freedom because we were too scared to lose? Signing the Declaration of Independence was extremely dangerous. Our founders weren't risking their seat in government, rather their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor. I wonder if there is even any of the latter left in Congress.

History shows that the nature of government is to expand, thereby putting those who would constrain it in a perpetual state of defense. If we are to keep our liberty, then we must urge the Republicans in the House and Senate to go on the offense and take proactive steps in the fight against tyranny. Call your representatives and senators. Go to dontfundit.com and sign the petition. We owe it to future generations to preserve the gift of liberty that was bestowed upon us. 

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